PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Sunday, Nov. 7 was the 94th annual Itoo Supper in Peoria hosted by the Itoo Society.
Community members enjoyed an authentic Lebanese meal of salad, kibbeh, cabbage rolls, green beans, chicken & rice, hummus, and pita bread.
“Part of our culture and our heritage is to give back to the people, and to feed people. We love feeding people,” said Mary Toel, Itoo Hall manager. “So this is something we actually really thrive on and we really love doing out of the bottom of our hearts.
The 501(c)3 organization was founded in 1914. According to its website, it was formed to give aid to Peoria’s Lebanese immigrants. It has since evolved to be a source of charity for the Central Illinois community, with a particular focus on serving veterans.
“It originally started by helping our members who moved here, the immigrants, and it has formed into helping veterans, helping people locally who need help and abroad. So in the last year and a half, we’ve been fortunate enough to send out about $100,000 directly to families and individuals who need help,” Toel said.
The website states:
“Members of the Itoo Society served their first ‘Supper’ in 1928. Although small, it was a success. The specialty of the “Supper” then, and ever since, was the Lebanese food that is served. Members were asked when such food would be served again, and so, the ‘Supper’ became an annual event.”
Although last year’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19, Sunday’s supper maintained the almost century-long tradition. To maintain social distancing, the meal was pre-order and drive-through pick-up only. In addition, suppers are already scheduled through 2029.
“We want people to know who we are, and be able to taste what our culture is like and experience it for themselves,” Toel said. “It helps them have a better appreciation for who we are, and it helps just in general accepting other cultures and other people.”